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Dec 11, 2019 8:39 AM
a Margaret in Whateley
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"Makes sense. I won't mess with them; they'll spend all their time in my armored torso and nothing should bother them there. Do they radiate detectably when they're running normally? I don't mind outputting a few bananas worth; just seems like something I ought to know."

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He shakes his head. “Not even a banana. I take shielding very seriously.”

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"Nice. I'm going to be shielding my processors against everything from EMPs to cosmic rays anyway, but one less thing to worry about is good."

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Josh nods. "Good policy. I guess I'll find you, uh, next Friday? And we'll trade hostages."

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"Sounds good! If you have an hour free around then, I can get them synced up to your brainwaves. See you!" She turns toward her workbench.

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"See you."

Josh makes his way back to his own workbench! He has batteries to make.

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Upload sets to making arms! They're largely based on the design for her own next set of arms, but with some changes due to different constraints. They have their batteries onboard, for instance, and instead of shoulder joints they have adjustible-height stands, weighted bases, and charging cables. Also there are five fingers that fold like human fingers, whereas Margaret's next hands will have two thumbs and the fingers will curl backwards as easily as forwards, each independently of the others.

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No one interrupts her until the inevitable bell.

Tessa stops her in the halls later that day. "Hey, Upload. You still looking for that extra lab time? Because I figured out something you can do for me."

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"Lab time continues to be the best time! What are you looking to trade?"

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"Most of my suit's functions are manually controlled at the moment. No matter how much I streamline that management process, it's still distracting in combat, especially since I can't use my gadgeteer intuition without my telekinesis lapsing. So I want an AI that'll run it for me. Sentience is up to you, just make sure it's capable of responding to commands and adapting to new situations; I don't care if it thinks it's a real boy as long as doesn't go Westworld on me."

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"I'm pretty sure I can avoid creating sapient life," she jokes. "Sure, I can get you something smart enough to do tactics but not smart enough to decide it wants to go be a vending machine instead or whatever."

She doesn't add "and you're a bit too flippant to trust you to take care of my kid even if that kid is designed for combat". She probably could create sapient life if she tried hard, but she's an unmarried high school student and for now motherhood sounds about as appealing as moving to Brazil.

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"Excellent! I'll get the extended project paperwork filed and we can meet in lab C at 5:00?"

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"Sounds good! I can start on the programming this afternoon when I'm done with my homework; it shouldn't need to eat much of the extra lab time except for the parts where I need to look at your suit."

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"Excellent," Tessa repeats. "Looking forward to working with you, then."

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"Same!" And off to her next class!

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At 5:00, Tessa is waiting in lab C, already tinkering with a disassembled laptop.

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Before she forgets again, is there a supervisor  around she could ask about independent study? If not, she gets back to work on arms for herself and Manhattan. 

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Nope! After hours.

"You wanna take a look at the suit so you can get started on that AI?"

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"Yeah, sure! Most of the AI work I can do in my dorm since it doesn't need tools, but I should see what you need it to interface with."

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"Makes sense." Tessa gestures, and the suit appears in front of Margaret in all its gunmetal glory.

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Margaret dives into examining it, paying attention to the systems included in it, how they constrain and interact with each other, what inputs they take, and what their interfaces look like.

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The suit is odd. It's clearly a patchwork, the frame from one place and the propulsion from another and the UI and weapons from yet more different places. Each different system has been tinkered into shape by the hand of an obvious genius; Tessa's handiwork fits together pieces of wildly disparate tech like a Lego playset. Still, even though they all play nicely with each other, it's a lot of different systems made by a lot of different people. This is not going to be an easy project.

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"Wow have you had a lot of collaborators", she mutters as she takes down notes on all the different data formats she's going to need to handle. Some of these components can take twice as many commands per second as other ones. This is going to be a software challenge on par with speeding up her own cognition, maybe even harder than that, but she's going to learn so much from it. Eventually she's got what she needs to know.

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"Yes, many people have contributed to my work," Tessa says evasively.

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Is she embarrassed about needing help? There's really no need to be; swapping ideas around is fun and so is specialization. "Collaboration is great. I'm trading Manhattan some arms for some really nice generators. I'm about done with this; making an AI to run it all should be tricky but doable."

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